When I was a child, I learned from my parents never to talk about politics or religion at the dinner table. As I grew up, those ideas were reinforced by the principle that one's political affiliation was better kept a polite secret, and that, while it was perfectly fine to let folks know what synagogue, mosque, or church you went to, good form required discretion concerning political or religious topics, as well as moral issues.A corollary of that perspective, which I also learned from my folks, was that one avoided bringing up politics at church -- or religion when talking politics. If at all possible, in polite conversation the two were to be kept separate. That reluctance to speak of politics and religion in the same breath has stayed with me to this day, though I recognize that in many other homes and families, religion, politics, and moral issues are grist for conversation at any and all family gatherings. As readers of my articles in The Downey Patriot are by now clear, I set aside my caution on such issues when it comes to the environment, simply because I believe the environmental issues that face us today -- not only in Downey, but throughout our state, our nation, and the world -- are so urgent as to make it incumbent on me to speak my mind and to do my best to help improve a difficult situation wherever I can. One of those flashpoint hot-button topics has always been the issue of plastic carryout bags. It has continually surfaced here on the pages of The Downey Patriot, and the online edition of The Patriot is replete with comments and counter-arguments on any and all articles and letters-to-the-editor regarding plastic bags. These discussions are lively and engaging, and to be frank, sometimes hostile and angry. Without once again trying to characterize it here, there's a lot of 'us versus them' sentiment on both sides. All of that is why I find it especially courageous and gracious that Downey First Christian Church has scheduled a screening of the award-winning documentary, "Bag It," which addresses not only the global issue of plastic carryout bags, but also the broader impact of the pervasive use of plastics in our culture. All of this "Bag It" does in an accessible, humane, humorous, and low-key way. To be sure, "Bag It" has an agenda, as is evident from the double entendre in its title. But it's the most comprehensive presentation of all the issues I have yet seen. It's also an appropriate topic during this Christmas/holiday season, hectic as it is, when a lot of stuff -- made from, packaged in, and bagged in plastic -- comes out of stores into our lives, our homes, and our trash cans. If you're sympathetic to some reduction of plastic use in our culture, you'll want to hear the big picture. If you're opposed, you'll want to be more informed about everything that's being said about the issue, particularly by those you disagree with. Above all, in the interest of a fair examination of the issues, this is a film everyone should want to see. A preview of the movie is available online at bagitmovie.com. So I strongly encourage all readers of this article to attend "Bag It" at Downey First Christian Church, 4th and New Streets, on Saturday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m. Lars Clutterham is the co-founder of downeygreen, a local non-profit organization advocating sustainability.
********** Published: December 1, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 33